‘Twas the night before any night, when all through Bloor St. a few creatures were stirring, perhaps even a few mice. Storefronts all shone along the sidewalk with care, in hopes that a customer would soon be there… ‘
Ok I won’t paraphrase the whole Christmas song, but an unmistakable feeling of nostalgia and magic stirs every time I pop in to visit Hodo Kwaja for a box of their Korean walnut cakes.
Walk in and the first thing you’ll see is the amazing hodo kwaja machine. Get there at the right time and you can huddle alongside other customers to watch the apparatus in full action. Shipped over from Korea by owner Jong Sik Lee, any slightness in the machine and he’ll know just by sound. Much like Kamaji in Spirited Away, Lee operates his Hodo Kwaja machinery like a true master.
Hodo Kwaja (walnut cakes) are a delightful snack. These Korean two-bite cakes are traditionally filled with sweet red bean and a piece of walnut then griddled to golden deliciousness. They are a true comfort food snack and pair splendidly with any warm beverage.
The cake batter is much like that of a pancake so the hodo kwaja come out soft and plumpy with a perfect blomp of filling.
The beginning and end of the assembly line where each hodo kwaja starts with a piece of walnut and comes out as a whole walnut cake – poof!
The red bean filling is prepared by repeatedly boiling and mashing the beans to create a smooth paste which is sweetened with white sugar.
The potato filling is a unique Western flavor created by Lee which is made by mashing potatoes with brown sugar and milk with a choice of added walnuts or almonds.
Walnut cakes aren’t the only delights Hodo Kwaja is known for: Stay tuned for my next post on Exploding Korean Pancakes and until then ‘Happy hodo kwaja to all, and to all a good night.’
Location: 656 Bloor St. West Toronto. Tel: 416.538.1208
Visit Hodo Kwaja’s webpage: www.hodokwaja.ca
Visit my Korean street food page: www.facebook.com/foodquestTV